A horse attends school

MIDDLEBURY A horse at school? Why yes, especially at the Hannaford Center, in Middlebury. The chestnut quarter horse, named Twister (nickname Twist) arrived last month to a stall in the Agriculture shop reserved just for him. His owner, Cheryl Werner, Agriculture and Natural Resources instructor and 2008 UVM Outstanding Teacher, felt that due to time constraints in the daily school schedule, it made more sense for Twist to visit school than for the students to be transported to visit Twist. Students in the Plant and Animal Science, Agribusiness Technology, and Health Careers classes participated in laboratory activities that centered on assessing the horses health and well-being. Grooming plays an important role in a horses day. Such care promotes the positive connection between the horse and rider by not only cleaning coat and hooves, but also provides a means for observing the horses health. Close contact with brushes and hoof picks provide ways of carefully monitoring for unusual behaviors or symptoms of disease or injury. Using stethoscopes, students were able to check for respiratory, digestive, and cardiac sounds. Students were also able to determine normal body temperature with the use of a thermometer. Twists height was measured using a measurement device that indicates the height between the ground and the animals withers (the highest point of the back at the base of the neck). A horses height is measured in units called hands. One hand equals four inches. Students used heart girth and length measurements in either centimeters or inches in a specific equation to estimate Twists weight in kilograms or pounds. Students learned that such skills and specialized equipment are keys to maintaining healthy equines. Additionally, they learned that consistent, close contact with animals helps form mutually beneficial relationships.

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